Birdwatching news and bird photography from Transcaucasia - by Kai Gauger and Michael Heiß

Donnerstag, 23. Juni 2011

dof travel

Text & Photos © K. Gauger

My second trip this spring started on 23.05. with a dof travel group. A detailed trip report will be available soon, so I wont write much here.
Again we started south and had still lots of migrating passerines in the first days, including two singing Blyth's Reed Warblers! One of them I recorded with my camera. Hear it singing on:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M06_edCpvLo
Kizil Agach was a bit disappointing. There were only few waders along the coast but at least we found a single Terek Sandpiper. Also no high numbers of gulls and terns anymore but we saw Caspian Terns in the northern lagoon.

Blue-cheeked Bea-eaters in the colony in Liman
The Zuvand region was great and very surprising with at least 30 Crimson-winged Finches in Mistan. We never had so many and they were the most common species there! But only one of us saw a single Irania. Very strange how the birdlife differs every year in this region... Near Gosmalian we had several singing Bimaculated Larks. They seem to be most constant of the specialities.

Crimson-winged Finches above Mistan
 On our trip though the lowland we stopped at Ag Gel national park but were not allowed to go in. Anyway, the impressive colony of more than thousand Blue-cheeked Bea-eaters is outside the park and we enjoyed it much! Also several flocks of Glossy Ibis were nice.

part of the colony of Blue-cheeked Bea-eaters at the entrance of Ag Gel NP
Glossy Ibis along the road to Ag Gel
At a pond short before Mingechevir we found some White-tailed Lapwings together with Black-winged Stilts, Collared Pratincoles and Ruddy Shelducks. On the Kura there was a flock of Armenian Gulls just besides the terace of our hotel. The first time for me to get some good pics!

 
Armenian Gulls in Mingechevir
The next day we spend mainly around Turianchay. Twice we saw chicks of Imperial Eagles on the nest and the second time there was even the female bird feeding a snake or a Sheltopusik to its youngs, great observation! We also saw Griffon, Black and Egyptian Vulture and Black Stork.

Rufous Bush Robin in Turianchay valley
After a night in Ismayilli we went further back to Baku and had several stopps along the road. Best was of course the big colony of Rosy Starlings in Ceyrankechmez. There were about 1200 birds around the houses. It was quite a good year for them and we saw many more huge flocks mainly around Besh Barmag.


Rosy Starlings in Ceyrankechmez
Lesser Kestrel in Ceyrankechmez
In Altiagach we had again the Nightjars and Scops Owls in the night and the other morning we foung a singing Barred Warbler. In the Atachay valley we had Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, many Ortolans and a nice Tawny Pipit.
The next two days we spend around Khinalik. We saw several Caucasian Snowcocks, but only one male Güldenstads Redstart. There were also four flying Great Rosefinches and a single female which only few of us saw. Around the hotel I got again some shots of Green Warbler.

Snowfinch above Khinalik
Rock Sparrow in Bozdankesh

Green Warbler at Nazli Bulag
Down in the valley we stopped in the forest looking mainly for Semi-collared Flycatcher. It took some time but finally we found a pair feeding at the nest and the male was also still singing, perfect! A crazy Treecreeper was breeding in the washbowl-tree of a tea house!

Treecreeper in Quba forest
We changed to Qusar and stayed again down in the valley. The Barred Warbler was still there, Wryneck and Lesser Grey Shrike were around the hotel and a Short-toed Eagle was flying by. We started early the next morning to get to the Caucasian Black Grouse lek and we could see at least five males. In the birch shrubs we saw several Mountain Chiffchaffs and a Corn Crake was calling from a wet meadow. I even got some pictures! There were many Rock Pipits, Common Rosefinches and Red-fronted Serins around Laza but the hihglight was a pair of Great Rosefinches right next to the Suvar resort. The best observation I ever had and for me the best birds of the trip!

Rock Pipit in Laza
Corn Crake in Laza
Common Rosefinch in Laza
Great Rosefinches in Laza
In the afternoon we birded around the hotel and could get some more nice pics. As we had seen all mountain species we decided to leave the next morning and go back to Baku one day earlier to do another excursion to Gobustan and Shirvan.
Red-backed Shrike in Qusar
samamisicus Redstart in Qusar
We went along the Russian border down to Samur and Yalama. In a dry, open oak forest we found Middle and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and at the coast we had Slender-billed Gulls and an ad White-tailed Eagle. There were dozends of Rollers, many Lesser Grey Shrikes and several Montagues Harriers on the way.

Middle Spotted Woodpecker in Samur
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in Samur
The day trip to Shirvan was very nice and prodced some more new species. We had Marbled Teal, Marsh Sandpiper and two beautiful Stone Curlews sitting on the ground road. I heard a Greater Sandplover calling but unfortunately we could not find the bird.

Menetries's Warbler in Shirvan

This was the best two-weeks-trip trip I ever had. We saw basically everything, alltogether 217 species, and I got a lot of nice pictures. I'm really looking forward to the next tours!





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